10 Best Sherlock Holmes Short Stories

Sherlock Holmes has remained a popular literary figure since his creation by the great, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With the release of the newest film featuring the dynamic, mystery solving duo – Sherlock Holmes, set to release this Christmas Day, it would be in the interest of many excited movie and literature fans to either become familiar with the tales or to simply refresh themselves on the subject. Following is a list with ten of the most inventive, interesting and creative short stories involving Holmes and Watson at their finest.

1. The Red-Headed League
This is a great way to introduce oneself to Sherlock Holmes, as it is one of the first short stories involving the master detective. In this tale, a portly, red-headed gentlemen seeks Holmes’ advice on a matter concerning a league in London that is prepared to pay any fiery redheads a large sum of money for doing simple, secretary tasks and because they have red hair and while the man seemed hesitant about attempting to fill the position, his assistant, a curious fellow, appears to be more excited about the league than anyone.

2. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
In this story, it begins with Holmes interrogating not a person, but a hat. This tale unleashes Sherlock’s uncanny ability at gathering the most trivial information from objects and building events and people out of them. Like with many of the mysteries, this one begins innocently enough, with a case that appears to have no criminal mind behind it, until Holmes delves further into the facts.

3. The Adventure of the Copper Beeches
I’ll say this is probably one of my favorites out of the many tales that have been written. The story begins with expanding on the more personal characteristics of Sherlock Holmes, showing his less than admirable features which Watson remarks upon, including the detective’s rather large ego. From there, it grows into a wild tale told by a young governess about a peculiar job offer presented by a rich man which includes such eccentricities as having her wear only a certain shade of blue dresses and that in order to take the job, she must cut her hair. This story shows Doyle’s ability to tell a mystery that can be just as exciting without the usual robberies, kidnappings and gunfights.

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4. The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
One of the more gruesome stories, although the title would most certainly have you think differently. It opens with its usual setting, Holmes and Watson in their rooms at Baker Street, using the moment to show off Holmes’ ability to basically read Watson’s every thought, which allows the reader themselves to learn more about the good doctor. Afterwards, the tale sets in regarding an older maiden that receives a most terrible package in the mail, which within a box of salt, rests two severed, human ears.

5. The Adventure of the Yellow Face
A fantastic opening which portrays Watson’s fascination with Holmes’ abilities in boxing, a sport the detective is often not known for among many readers, and his occasional use of cocaine, which Watson remarks upon by saying it was the detective’s way of keeping his mind busy when there were no cases at hand. The story is about a most nervous gentlemen coming to Holmes for advice concerning his wife. She recently has been taking large sums of money and refuses to tell her husband what it is for, leading a mystery to a most interesting conclusion. The Adventure of the Yellow Face is one of Doyle’s magnificent showings of a mystery without any criminal activity, whatsoever.

6. The Adventure of the Dancing Men
This is a most interesting and clever mystery about a gentlemen from the countryside coming to Holmes with a piece of paper that has little dancing men drawn on it. The note itself means nothing to him, but when the man’s wife saw the figures, she fainted and has since, been living in a state of fear. He does not understand why and comes to Holmes to solve the drawings and put his wife at ease.

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7. The Adventure of the Abbey Grange
This story is famous for being one of the Doyle’s favorites as well as housing Holmes’ notorious line, “Come, Watson! The game is afoot.” It begins early in the morning with Holmes receiving a telegram from Hopkins, of Scotland Yard, asking for his assistance with the murder of Sir Eustace Brackenstall, one of the richest men in Kent. The only witness to the murder appears to be Sir Eustace’s wife, who was wounded during the event.

8. The Adventure of the Priory School
Beginning without warning almost, a man barges into the Baker Street residence and asks for Holmes’ help in a most urgent manner, which the detective says no to, on the grounds of many active cases at the time. Only then does the man, a Dr. Huxtable, exclaim that the only son and child of the Duke of Holdernesse, one of the greatest subjects of the Crown, has been abducted from Huxtable’s priory school at the age of ten.

9. The Adventure of the Naval Treaty
This story begins with Watson receiving a letter from an old school friend, asking for assistance to a most dire situation in which Holmes must be present. The opening allows the reader to gain a greater understanding of Watson, who often does not speak much of himself in his retellings about Holmes’ adventures. A notable point in this story is that Holmes does make reference to his tobacco stuffed in a Persian slipper and his use of chemicals in solving cases.

10. The Adventure of the Reigate Squire
In this tale, it is seen that for all of Holmes’ iron will and ability to go days on end without sleep, he can become ill and does so. Under Watson’s care, he is ordered to not think or work on any cases, but a burglary and murder at the Cunningham’s residence results in their coachman being shot and killed through the heart and Holmes is once again on the case.